This chapter explores the ways in which stylistic approaches have been used – and could be used – to analyse children’s literature. It starts by considering the nature of the genre and its various sub-genres (writing for young children, tween fiction, young adult fiction and cross-writing), suggesting that the very nature of writing for children is complex and not easily pinned down to a single entity. Equally, although the notion of a ‘child reader’ is not easy to define, I argue that the genre’s representations and language will largely be different from adult fiction and that these therefore provide fertile ground for the stylistician; for as Wall (1991: 2) suggests, ‘it is not what is said, but the way it is said, and to whom it is said, which marks a book for children’.

The chapter continues with a historical overview of children’s literature before ranging more widely across key issues and topics. It specifically examines the representation of growing up in literature, the modelling of fictional minds, and the interplay of text and image in making meaning in children’s literature. Later sections explore ‘crossover fiction’ and the role of literature in education. Each section draws on various methods and approaches that have been used by researchers, demonstrating how analyses can utilise a wide range of contemporary linguistic theories and frameworks. The chapter ends with recommendations for practice and a consideration of the future directions of the topic.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Stylistics
EditorsMichael Burke
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022


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